Discreetly (and oh so cool and exclusively) tucked away on the border of the Square Mile in east London, is the latest bespoke Chinese fine dining experience to be introduced by the Hakkasan Group: HKK.
To be in such great company with the likes of top eateries Chrysan, Yauatcha and of course, Hakkasan, our standards were set really high before arriving. With that said, it didn’t take us very long to discover that HKK naturally lives up to all expectations. Just like its well-established sister restaurants, this place is fast becoming one of the hottest gourmet spots around.
HKK exclusively offers a single, ever-evolving tasting menu for lunch and dinner. Our unique evening meal comprised of 15 carefully crafted courses – each one completely different yet wholly complementary to the previous and next. Here, the menu philosophy tells the story of China through reviving and modernising old recipes, using authentic wok and barbecue cooking methods alongside present-day sous vide techniques.
Guests dine in a round, facing a central serving table, so you can watch as mouthwatering dishes are prepared in front of your eyes. A long, well-equipped bar also stretches across almost one entire side of the wall, shaking up various signature cocktails and decanting fine spirits and exquisite wines from around the world, including sake. We were impressed to see a deliciously varied and well thought out vegetarian menu, plus non-alcoholic drinks pairings; a series of fresh juices, mixed cocktails and teas. We decided to enhance our meal with a wonderfully paired flight of wines, each one excellently described by our charming and informed sommelier.
After our Chinese-inspired cocktail aperitifs, we began our four starter-style courses with ‘four treasure’ Iberico ham wrap, paired with a savoury white Spanish fino. Next arrived the 20 years Gu-yue-long-shan drunken chicken. Cherry wood roasted Peking duck followed by poulet de Bresse and a well-presented dried scallop soup was suitably matched with a light, ruby red pinot noir. Course five was a dim sum trilogy of Gai-lan, shimeji mushroom and lily bulb in XO sauce, served with a daring yet refreshingly vibrant, orange coloured cocktail called ‘Bitter Fortune’. Wok fried lobster with pan-mee went down a treat with the crisp taste of Australian chardonnay.
The skill and creativity of Michelin-starred chef Tong Chee Hwee shines beyond comprehension. He injects his talent for presenting complex flavoured Cantonese dishes with a modern flair, delivering originality and vitality to every dish at HKK.
Mid-way follows a ritualistic afternoon tea course: a high quality blend of Da Hong Pao oolomg (also known as ‘Big Red Robe’ and is the most expensive tea per pound in the world), served with osmanthus flower jelly and water chestnut cake to help cleanse the palette – fit enough for a Chinese emperor.
We were then on to the main courses of monkfish fillet with Louis Roederer champagne sauce and toban of homemade pumpkin tofu, served with rice wine, sake. Our favourites were the next two dishes: jasmine tea-smoked Wagyu beef and steamed razor clam with chilli, mui-choi glutinous rice. Our imperial banquet was topped off with a helping of lychee tapioca with a tropical sorbet and passion jam, followed by pineapple fritter, salted lime jelly and vanilla ice-cream and a selection of petits fours, along with a luscious Italian dessert wine.